Archive for Thursday, March 17, 2005

Column: Making my March Madness predictions

March 17, 2005

It's my favorite time of the year: March Madness.

The madness begins today, and I couldn't be more excited. Of course, I filled out some brackets and entered a pool, even though I never do any good.

I watch basketball from November through March, and I can never predict the NCAA tournament if my life depended on it.

On Sunday night the selections and seedings came out. I was sitting in front of my television waiting anxiously to see who would go where and what seed it would be.

First they showed the No. 1 seeds, which I agreed with except Washington. I felt that Oklahoma State deserved the No. 1 seed by winning the Big 12 tournament, which is much tougher than the PAC-10.

I was OK with most of the selections, except Vermont being a No. 13 seed. That is ridiculous, because it is 24-6 and almost beat a great Kansas team in Lawrence. Vermont is better than some higher seeds, but has to play Syracuse in the first game. That is awful for it and for Syracuse.

I did feel Notre Dame got snubbed, because it had some big wins this season over Villanova, Connecticut and Boston College. Notre Dame also hung close in many other Big East games. But now the Fighting Irish must show their ability and win the NIT.

My last complaint is how Kansas got a No. 3 seed. I thought there was no way KU was going to get worse than a No. 2 seed. But instead, Connecticut got the No. 2 seed in the same bracket, but has one more loss and a weaker schedule.

But, then I realized it doesn't matter your seed, because you still have to beat the best sometime to advance. But I am excited to see a potential match-up between KU and North Carolina in the Elite Eight.

All right, enough of my griping, it's time for my bold predictions on the tourney. I always try to think hard about my picks, but this year I went with a quick-pick plan.

I have a few upsets in the first-round, such as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Iowa.

I am picking that Wisconsin-Milwaukee makes it to the Sweet Sixteen, but will lose to Illinois. Illinois could potentially lose to Texas in the second round, if Texas plays to its ability.

Another possible upset to watch out for is Iowa State over North Carolina in the second round. Roy Williams doesn't like playing Iowa State and it could be an interesting match-up.

But my Final Four consists of Illinois, Georgia Tech, Kansas and Syracuse. I know those are some interesting picks, but I am going for the upsets this year. I have Kansas and Illinois in the championship game, with, of course, Kansas winning the title.

Kansas will have to beat North Carolina and Illinois to do so. That will mean facing old coach Williams and Bill Self's former team.

My reasons for picking KU to win the title are simple. First, they are a senior-led team that has been to the Final Four twice and the Elite 8 once in three years. Second, they have won many close games this year, which is a huge benefit in the tournament. Third, Keith Langford, Aaron Miles and Wayne Simien know how to make big shots in big situations. And the final reason is because I am a die-hard KU fan and I can't pick them to lose.

Well, there you have my picks for the tourney. I am sure I will hear it if my teams lose in the first weekend.

I hope to see Kansas cutting down the nets to "One Shining Moment" on April 4. That just happens to be the same date that Kansas won the championship in 1988.

Let the madness begin and the brackets broken.

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